Many of the medical procedures that we rely on are time sensitive. The failure or success of an organ transplant, in particular, tends to be determined by how fast the delivery process can be completed. Logistics often depend on human capabilities. These are prone to error and inefficiencies, however, for the first time, the medical industry may have an innovative new alternative.
Not too long ago, a patient at the University of Maryland Medical Center that was in need of an organ transplant had a drone successfully deliver the required kidney so the operation could proceed. Now, it may or may not seem like it but this is a momentous occasion for many reasons. It possibly marks the beginning of an era of new opportunities in medicine.
The organ took a short route (roughly 10 minutes or 2.7 miles as part of a test flight that began from Baltimore’s St. Agnes Hospital). Upon reaching the University of Maryland (UMD) medical center, the organ was transplanted just a few hours after the successful delivery.
In the grand scheme of new technology being applied to age-old core processes, unmanned aircraft delivery is a concept that’s gradually becoming a prominent focus. It can be a faster, safer and more cost-effective option and lead to more efficient organ transplants.
The drone that was responsible for this first-ever delivery of its kind was developed by a committed team of physicians, researchers, aviation experts and engineers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the University of Maryland and the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, a nonprofit that facilitates organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
You can expect that this groundbreaking project has spurred discussions in both the tech and medical industry. It’s an improvement on conventional organ delivery that could possibly save thousands of lives down the line.
The project was planned by Dr Joseph R. Scalea (who was also the individual responsible for the transplant procedure). He mentioned that the venture was initiated together with aviation and engineering experts after experiencing numerous organ delivery delays. In one case, an organ took 29 hours to arrive and Dr Joseph was given only nine hours to complete the surgery.
The team was also very careful about the entire drone delivery process, carrying out over 44 test flights over 700 hours before actually proceeding with the actual delivery. They took every possible precaution, building plenty of redundancies and doing as much as possible to protect the organ and the wellbeing of the receiver.
They also had a lot of help in the form of logistics and flight tracking support from AiRXOS, a GE Aviation division that deals with drone infrastructure and support services. Technical competence should be considered extremely important when working with drone technology.
Aside from possible reductions in time and risks, drones also have an added ability to monitor critical details while the delivery is underway (including temperature levels, ETAs and other statistics). This data can be observed in real time.
With all the opportunities revolving around the development of advanced drone capabilities, the people behind the creation and management of drones should not be ignored. They are an integral part of the entire equation.
Demand for talented individuals who are skilled with drones is becoming apparent. With proper skills training and personal development, positions in the workforce of the future are open to the right individuals who are able to benefit industries through the work that they do.